Study sheds light on drug and alcohol use among truckers
Recent research has shed new light on the problem of substance abuse among commercial truck drivers. The findings could potentially be used to help develop new laws and employment policies in the ongoing effort to prevent dangerous truck accidents.
In an international review conducted at the State University of Londrina in Brazil, researchers analyzed the findings of 36 earlier studies from various parts of the world, all of which addressed the issue of drug and alcohol use among truck drivers. Most of the research was performed in the United States or other large countries like Australia and Brazil. Of the 36 separate studies involved in the review, 23 relied on self-reported data obtained through driver surveys, while others involved testing of biological samples.
Scope of problem remains uncertain
Published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine in October 2013, the review suggests that alcohol and illicit drug use continue to play a significant role in impaired driving among commercial truck drivers, contributing to the risk of accidents, injuries and death.
Because the results of the individual studies in the review varied widely, possibly due to differences in research methods and analysis, the exact scope of the problem remains unclear. While some studies found much lower rates of on-the-job substance abuse among truckers, some surveys cited in the review found that as many as nine out of 10 truck drivers drink on the job, and as many as eight out of 10 use amphetamines. Other drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, were also widely reported by some of the studies.
Substance abuse risk factors
Twelve of the studies in the review examined the factors that may increase a truck driver's likelihood of using drugs or alcohol while on the job. Data from the studies show that substance abuse may be more prevalent among truck drivers who:
- Are relatively young.
- Take longer trips.
- Drive frequently at night.
- Sleep relatively little.
- Are paid less for their work.
Further research is needed to shed more light on the issue of why some truck drivers are more likely to use drugs and alcohol on the job, as well as how best to remedy this problem and keep the roads safe for everyone.
While alcohol and drugs increase the likelihood of a crash, as well as increasing its likely severity, any accident involving a commercial truck is a serious and potentially life-changing matter. In the event of a truck accident affecting you or a family member, be sure to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about the legal options and remedies that may be available.